By now, consumers are used to shelling out wads of cash for checked bags, roomier seats and a hot meal.Those fees are explicitly stated, but there are others lurking under the radar that have the potential to blindside fliers. The fees tend to crop up when fliers make last-minute adjustments or wait to do something, like printing out a boarding pass, at the airport.
To learn more about these “hidden fees” and how to avoid them, we spoke to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, who offered some insight.
Priority seats “It used to be everyone paid one flat fee for a flight and had access to every seat,” says Klee. Now airlines are charging extra for premium seats, and the number of seats you can’t purchase is rapidly increasing. “On many flights,” he says, “it’s impossible to find a window or aisle seat without paying.”
Cost: Between $10 and $15, depending on the length of the flight.
Get around it: Don’t wait until the last minute (aka when your’e printing your boarding pass) to arrange your seats. Book them well in advance, ideally when you’ve just bought the fare.
Printing the pass “I see all the time where people are being charged to print out the boarding pass at the airport,” Klee says. “Some airlines in Europe even charge you more to pay by credit card. This was illegal in the U.S. until last week.” (Note: Klee is referring to the recent Visa-MasterCard settlement that allows merchants to charge consumers for using credit.)
Cost: Up to $5, depending on the carrier.
Get around it: Print the boarding pass at home.
Checking bags This fee should come as no surprise to seasoned travellers, but even they might be blindsided by the higher fee they’re charged to check bags online rather than at the airport.
Cost: Up to $5 or more, depending on the airline.
Get around it: Consider packing light, waiting to checking your bag at the airport or, if you’re a heavy packer, using a bag shipping service like LugLess, which transports luggage for a flat fee of $39.